Altium Designer

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Altium Designer
Altium Designer logo.png
Developer(s) Altium
Initial release 2005; 12 years ago (2005)
Stable release
17.0.11 (Build 656) / February 28, 2017; 23 days ago (2017-02-28)
Written in Delphi
Operating system Microsoft Windows
Type Electronic design automation
License Proprietary

Altium Designer is an electronic design automation software package for printed circuit board, FPGA and embedded software design, and associated library and release management automation. It is developed and marketed by Altium Limited of Australia. The current release is 17.0[1] [2]


In 1985 Altium launched the DOS based PCB design tool known as Protel, and later named Autotrax (and a limited feature-set low cost version Easytrax). Originally sold only in Australia, it has been exported to the United States and Europe since 1986. In 1987, Altium launched the circuit diagram editor Protel Schematic. The launch of Protel 98 in 1998 saw the consolidation of all components, including Protel Advanced PCB and Protel Advanced Schematic, into a single environment. Protel 99 introduced the first integrated 3D visualization of the PCB assembly, and Altium Designer version 6.8 from 2007 was the first to offer 3D visualization and clearance checking of PCBs directly within the PCB editor. In April 2011 Altium moved from Australia to Shanghai in China and most workers in Sydney were made redundant.

Schematic capture[edit]

Schematic capture module provides electronics circuit editing functionality, including:

  • Component library management
  • Schematic document editing (component placement, connectivity editing and design rules definition)
  • Integration with several component distributors allows search for components and access to manufacturer's data[3]
  • SPICE mixed-signal circuit simulation
  • Pre-layout signal integrity analysis
  • Netlist export
  • Reporting and BoM facilities
  • Multi-channel, hierarchical schematics and design re-use

3D PCB design[edit]

Printed circuit board design module of Altium designer allows:

  • xSignal Wizard: allows the designer to cluster multiple nets into a single signal
  • Support for Flex and Rigid-Flex Design
  • Custom Coverlay Support
  • Live Drill Drawing
  • Add Hole Tolerance
  • PDF 3D Export
  • Dynamic Display of Clearance Boundaries During Routing
  • Enhanced Layer Stack Management
  • Support for Embedded Components
  • Differential Pair Routing Improvements
  • Via Stitching within a User-Defined Area
  • Ibis Model Implementation Editor
  • Pin-Package Delay Support
  • Import wizard to import from Orcad Mentor and other software in to Altium
  • Component footprint library management
  • Smart Component placement
  • Manual trace routing, with support for differential pairs, multi-trace routing, pin-swapping and gate-swapping
  • Automatic trace routing
  • Automated multi-channel layout and routing
  • 3D STEP Model Generation in IPC Wizard
  • Interactive 3D editing of the board and MCAD export to STEP[4]
  • Signal integrity analysis
  • Manufacturing files generation with support for Gerber and ODB++ formats

FPGA and embedded software tools[edit]

FPGA development tools integrated into Altium designer provide the following capabilities:

  • FPGA, PCB and Signal Integrity design synchronization
  • VHDL simulation and debugging[5]
  • FPGA soft processor software development tools (compiler, debugger, profiler) for several embedded processors[6]

Release/data management[edit]

Release and data management tools within Altium designer allow users to:

  • Version control each design, and compare differences textually and visually[7]
  • Batch-process output generation and output formatting (i.e. Gerber files, Pick and Place, PDF schematic and PCB documentation etc.)
  • Create templates for documents and design rules
  • Use configuration management and track all design changes through ECO
  • Create and release design and assembly variants
  • Cloud publishing of design and manufacturing data[8]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Altium, "Altium Downloads", accessed 2015-9-16
  2. ^ Altium, "Release Notes for Altium Designer Version 15.1", accessed 2015-9-16
  3. ^ EETimes, "CAD links to disty databases gain momentum", accessed 2010-09-08
  4. ^ EETimes, "Altium releases 3D PCB visualization", accessed 2010-09-06
  5. ^ EETimes, "Aldec FPGA simulation added to Altium Designer", accessed 2010-09-06
  6. ^ FPGA World, "Altium announces support for Xilinx MicroBlaze processor", accessed 2010-09-06
  7. ^ EETimes, "Altium announces new publishing and version control capabilities", accessed 2010-12-21
  8. ^ FPGA Journal, "Head in the clouds", accessed 2010-12-21

External links[edit]